Hate crimes are rising in America. Over the last year, bombings, assaults, and the destruction of property have intensified against minorities, women, and homosexuals.
In November, The New York Times published an article announcing that the FBI had catalogued 5,818 hate crimes over the last year, which is a 6 percent increase in crime compared to previous years.
Attacks against Muslims and transgender people have surged. Based on race, African-Americans were the most frequent victims of hate crimes, and Jews were the most targeted based on religion.
The FBI reported a 67 percent increase in hate crimes against Muslims in 2015. The Los Angeles Times reported that various mosques have organized emergency meetings to deal with the incidents, and over 300 Muslim leaders published a letter to Trump addressing their “serious concerns” about his rhetoric, asking him to protect their freedom.
Indeed, Trump’s hateful rhetoric against Muslims have given some of his followers cause to hurt Muslims. While not all of his supporters engage in these crimes, Trump has given them reason to participate in these actions.
Eddie Glaude, the chair of the Department for African-American Studies at Princeton University told PBS that Trump has given prejudiced Americans more of a voice:
“But we do know is that there is a certain segment of the American population that has found in Trump, right, an exemplar found in Trump justification to go out and attack minority populations, and then to put forward an idea of America that is white, an idea of America that is heterosexist…”
The FBI has investigated hate crimes as far back as World War I. Some drastic examples of hate crimes happened in 1964 in Mississippi where members of the Ku Klux Klan killed civil rights activists James Earl Cheney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. While local officials did not want to prosecute the case, widespread outrage over this and other similar crimes during the Civil Rights Era resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
But states did not criminalize hate crimes until the 1980s, and defendants argued that these laws violated their rights to free speech.
Disgusting acts of violence against marginalized groups only continued. A gay university student, Matthew Shepard was abused and murdered by two men in Laramie, Wyoming for his homosexuality.
Surprisingly enough, Wyoming still does not have a hate crimes law. Governor Matt Mead told local paper, the Casper Star Tribune that the state does not need one and “current laws already serve to prevent shootings, assaults, and other crimes.”
The Movement Advancement Project, a thinktank dedicated to LGBTQ equality, has a map that shows the extension of hate crime laws in the country. There are currently five states that have no hate crime laws: Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana, and Wyoming.
Obviously, lawmakers and politicians still have ways to go in protecting Americans against ignorance and violence, but there are personal things we can do to prevent the spread of hateful propaganda and ideas, especially once Donald Trump takes office.
One way is to go outside your comfort zone and mingle with people who are not in your bubble. Having contact with people unique from our sexual orientation, race, culture, religion, or biases helps create understanding and shows us at the end of the day we are all people.
Diversity expert Jane Elliott sets up experiments with people that facilitates dialogue about what racism is like and why we should eliminate it. She famously conducted an experiment on the Oprah Winfrey show where she gave preferences to brown-eyed audience members of blue-eyed ones.
One notable quote she said on the show was: “God created one race, the human race, and human beings created racism.”
What do you think of the hate crimes in the United States especially after the election? How can we stop them? Tweet @issabasco.